Still the annual girls basketball tournament, hosted by Spanish Springs and Reno went off with few glitches and a strong showing by the Rail City City’s two large high schools.
While perennial Northern 4A power Reed advanced into the championship game, Spanish Springs took home a fourth-place finish.
After beating Atwater, Calif. and Carson in the tournament’s first two rounds, Spanish Springs concluded its tourney run with a 55-53 semifinal loss to cross-town rival Reed and a 55-49 loss to Galena in the third place game.
“I feel good about the weekend. I had some questions in may head about whether we could compete against two of the better teams in northern Nevada,” Spanish Springs coach Christine Eckles said.
“I was worried maybe we would be a little intimidated, back down or buckle under pressure and the kids didn’t do that. They competed. That’s a great thing. Now we can work on other stuff, now that we’ve answered that call. I just hope we can continue to build on it. If we can build on it, it will prove to be a good weekend.”
Against Galena Saturday night, Spanish Springs (6-2) fell behind early and was forced to play catch-up throughout the tourney tilt. It could never get over the hump.
After trailing by as much as 13 in the third period, Spanish Springs rallied to get within one, 44-43 after freshman Riley Holladay drained a 3-pointer with 4:22 to go in the contest.
Holladay buried four threes and finished with 14 points — a career high in her brief prep career — to lead Spanish Springs.
“We did a good job of getting ourselves back in the game and then I think we had some costly turnovers that limited us from taking the lead or tying it,” Eckles said. “That’s something we need to improve on because we did it in both games today.”
Spanish Springs hung around down the stretch, but could not get that close again. Kelly Hernandez canned 1 of 2 foul shots with 1:02 to go in the game. That got Spanish Springs within four, 53-49, but Galena’s sophomore sharpshooter Taylor Schaller hit two free throws with 16.7 seconds to go, accounting for the remainder of the game’s scoring.
Schaller buried five 3-pointers for Galena (5-1) and put up a team-high 23 points for the Grizzlies. Hayley Jensen chipped in 13 for the south Reno school.
Galena led 44-32 after three periods when Spanish Springs began to scramble back into contention. The Cougars did that by opening the period on an 11-0 spurt that was capped by Holladay’s trey.
Galena secured the win by scoring nine of the next 11 points after Holladay’s late 3-pointer.
Hernandez added 11 for points for Spanish Springs in the loss.
The Cougars won the rebounding war by a slim 23-21 margin, but Galena forced 25 SSHS turnovers while committing 18.
Spanish Springs plays its lone High Desert League game before January on Tuesday night. The Cougars host defending Northern 4A champion Reno at 5:15 p.m.
•Saturday afternoon’s tournament semifinal between Spanish Springs and Reed was likely the most dramatic game of the tournament.
Reed held a 44-30 advantage after three quarters. Spanish Springs fought back to snare a 52-51 lead when Hernandez knocked down a jumper with 3:50 to go in the contest.
Reed regained the lead, 53-52, when Danielle Peacon buried a pair of free throws with 1:49 showing on the fourth-quarter clock. The Raiders held on from there.
Peacon had a game-high 22 points for the RHS crew.
Hernandez paced Spanish Springs with 16 points while Ari James added 11 points and 11 rebounds. Jackie Moore chipped in 10 for the Cougs.